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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Into the Frozen Shopping Tundra... Where Google Dares Not Tread

Who can't use a tool that will answer your email, stir your drink, fix a flat tire, and comb your hair, all at the same time?

Inspired by a client, the New Hampshire-based Swiss Knife Shop, last week I decided to pick up a few Victorinox stocking stuffers of the "can't miss" variety. Searching online, I was pleased to see ShoptoIt.ca with a healthy selection of Swiss Army products for the Canadian online shopper. Most of the listings are from two major retailers, TigerDirect.ca and Mountain Equipment Co-Op, but you've got to start somewhere.

Google still isn't in that space - and most of the other major players (with the exception of eBay and Amazon) are still doing a weak job of serving the Canadian online shopping comparison market. Calgary-based ShoptoIt is trying to defy the odds, to do a good thing for the Canadian online retail market. Outside of the U.S., online retailers are not easy to cobble together, and user bases are hard to build.

Search engines - be they major ones or niche comparison sites - are driving unprecedented amounts of traffic to offline retailers this holiday season, helping the savvy ones build their brands for next to nothing. Keyword prices are still a bargain for the largest retail players, which unfortunately may not bode well for smaller operations.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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